Migrants in Countries in Crisis: what to do?

 

Recent events such as the Tohoku Tsunami in Japan, floods in Thailand (2011), Hurricane Sandy in the United States, and conflicts in Libya and Yemen are some examples of crisis situations in which migrants are among the most affected populations. Language and cultural barriers, restrictions to mobilization, irregular status, loss of personal documents, limited access to support networks and discrimination, are factors which may affect migrants during crisis. Moreover, in some unfortunate cases migrants remain excluded from the official protection mechanisms.

In this context, Migrants in Countries in Crisis Initiative (MICIC) was launched in 2014, and led by the United States and the Philippines. The initiative promoted broad and inclusive evidence-gathering and facilitated series of consultations, which resulted in the development of a set of principles, guidelines, and practices intended to provide guidance to States in order to better protect migrant in crisis situations. 

MICIC Initiative proposes 10 principles to States on how to prepare for and respond to crisis in ways that protect migrants during the time of crisis:

  1. First, save lives. Respect for the inherent humanity and dignity of migrants means all possible efforts should be taken to save lives, regardless of immigration status.
  2. As human beings, all migrants are entitled to human rights. At all times, the human rights of migrants should be respected.
  3. States bear the primary responsibility to protect migrants within their territories and their own citizens, including when they are abroad. Host States and States of transit have responsibilities towards all persons within their territories, including migrants, regardless of their immigration status.
  4. Private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society play a significant role in protecting migrants and in supporting States to protect migrants.
  5. Humanitarian action to protect migrants should be guided by the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.
  6. Migrants are rights holders and capable actors, resilient and creative in the face of adversities. They are not merely victims or passive recipients of assistance. While crisis affect individual migrants differently, they have the capacity to take charge of their own safety and wellbeing and should be responsible for doing so, provided they have access to the necessary information and support.
  7. Migrants strengthen the vitality of both their host States and States of origin in multiple ways. Migrants provide for and contribute to their families, communities, and societies. Positive communication about migrants promotes tolerance, non-discrimination, inclusiveness, and respect toward migrants.
  8. Action at the local, national, regional, and international levels is necessary to improve responses. Local authorities and non-State local actors, including local communities and community leaders, are particularly well placed to understand and address needs during crisis.
  9. Partnerships, cooperation, and coordination are essential between and among States, private sector actors, international organizations, civil society, local communities, and migrants.
  10. Continuous research, learning, and innovation improve our collective response. Regular assessments and evaluations of past experiences in protecting migrants in countries experiencing conflicts or natural disasters can inform planning, preparation, and responses.

MICIC Initiative also provides guidelines and practices, which will be addressed in our next blog posts. If you are interested in learning more about this issue, the report is available here: GUIDELINES TO PROTECT MIGRANTS IN COUNTRIES EXPERIENCING CONFLICT OR NATURAL DISASTER

 

 

   About the author:

Jean Pierre Mora Casasola is a Communications Specialist at IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. He has served as a consultant in different social organizations and in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He holds a Degree in Advertising from the University “Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología” (ULACIT), and he is currently getting a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations at the same university.  Twitter: @jeanpierremora 

 


Multilateral cooperation, a key for migration governance

Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Guest Contributor

Migratory movements in Central and North America have been determined by diverse political, economic, environmental, social and cultural factors. Due to their complexity, migration processes at national and regional levels reveal a great number of challenges, so cooperation and dialogue between countries and agencies is essential to address them properly.

Inter-state consultation mechanisms on migration (ISCM) are forums run by States in which information is exchanged and policy dialogues are held for States interested in promoting cooperation in the field of migration. These mechanisms can be regional (regional consultative processes on migration or RPCs), interregional (interregional forums on migration or IRFs) or global (global processes on migration).

There are 15 Regional Consultative Processes on migration active in the world, but few as consolidated and with as much experience as the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), created in 1996.

The RCM is a regional consultative process on migration to exchange experiences and good practices in ​​migration at a technical-political level. The coordination of policies and actions is carried out by its eleven member states: Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Created at the first Tuxtla Summit, the RCM is governed by the following objectives:

• Promote the exchange of information, experiences and best practices.

• Encourage cooperation and regional efforts in migration matters.

• Strengthen the integrity of immigration laws, borders and security.

This poses a great challenge, since it involves the balance of security issues at each country’s level as well as at a regional level, the search for national prosperity and economic improvement, and the rights of migrants in accordance with international agreements and conventions.

 "The issue of migration has many challenges, and among them is public opinion. Sometimes the issue of immigration is not so popular, if it is not addressed in an appropriate manner. There is a lot of misinformation about migration issues, and countries’ efforts are not always recognized," said Luis Alonso Serrano, coordinator of RCM’s Technical Secretariat.

The RCM works with three different liaison networks: the fight against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, consular protection, and the protection of migrant children and adolescents. This year, the RCM is going through a re-launch process, led by Guatemala as Presidency Pro-Tempore, to innovate and be at the forefront in meeting regional objectives. The RCM is a dynamic process and evolution is one of its main characteristics.

Among its achievements is the establishment of different assistance projects for the return of vulnerable migrants, training workshops and seminars on migration issues, and technical and institutional assistance to the migration authorities of RCM’s member states.

The RCM has also published a comparative analysis of the legislation of Member States on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, which is periodically updated, as well as a series of guidelines and manuals for migration governance.

However, of all its achievements, the most important achievement of the RCM is teamwork: the commitment of continuous dialogue between countries characterized by different economic, socio-cultural and migratory realities. This regional consultation process provides a space for equal representation and participation to government delegates, facilitating the identification of matters of common interest, as well as needs, objectives and areas of action.

The efforts of the RCM are complemented by the work of other regional entities interested in migration governance, such as the Central American Integration System (SICA). Currently, SICA and IOM are developing a study on the causes and consequences of migration in the region, to develop a regional action plan to address the phenomenon.

As Serrano explains: "The immigration issue does not belong to a single country on its own. Through the exchange of experiences and good practices, a dialogue between peers is created to share challenges. You not only learn from the good, but also from the opportunities for improvement, in order to strengthen migration governance and ultimately reach the target population: the migrant population, whom we owe our work to. "

For more information about the RCM and access to documents and publications, visit: http://portal.crmsv.org/